Montreal’s Canadian Centre for Architecture

Posted on October 6th, 2009 by .

The CANADIAN CENTRE FOR ARCHITECTURE is one of its kind. Founded by architect Phyllis Lambert, it’s an international research centre dedicated to architecture and urban design that’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. 
Read the full story to find out why you should check out photos of abandoned factories getting destroyed.
Lambert, who also created Heritage Montreal, fought to preserve the Shaughnessy Housse, an historically classified building in downtown Montreal, and created a new building with Peter Rose and Erol Argun, using the city’s native limestone with structural aluminium, which eventually became the CCA. There’s also an outdoor garden on the south side of the building, designed by Montreal artist and architect Melvin Charney. With more than 100,000 prints and drawings, 55,000 photographs, 150 archives and nearly 215,000 volumes, it has the world’s most important collection of works focusing on architecture. The CCA isn’t simply a research centre; it’s also a museum and a study centre that encourages scholars, students, architects, professionals and amateurs to find out more about the discipline and pursue their own projects with full access to its documents.

This fall, CCA celebrates the work of Toronto photographer Robert Burley, an acclaimed artist whose photographs were exhibited and published worldwide. Burley’s work is influenced by the relationship between architecture, nature, space and destruction – he documents the decline of traditional photography, and the disappearance of factories that made conventional photographic products, such as cameras, film and darkroom chemicals. The first artwork, Photographic Proof, is a massive reproduction of an old Polaroid installed on the north side of the CCA building, facing Baile Street. It shows the dynamiting of the Kodak-Pathé plant in 2007, while Burley’s retrospective inside the walls, The Disappearance of Darkness, shows the effects of abandoned and destroyed buildings from Polaroid, Kodak and Afga, among others. The transformation isn’t simply happening in our cultures; it’s not just about going from traditional to digital photography, it’s also about leaving behind the physical supports that we used to rely on, and see the effects of such a destruction on nature and the environment. It’s an interesting complement to this month’s MOIS DE LA PHOTO, since it shows how “the spaces of the image” sometimes cease to exist.

If you have some extra time, check out the CCA’s bookstore, which specializes in literature related to architecture, design, photography and art – you can find some beautiful art books as well as rare magazines.

CCA might be hard to find if you’re not from here. It’s located close to the Guy-Concordia metro station, between Ste. Catherine St. and René-Lévesque Blvd. You can access it by walking down from the metro station on St. Marc St. or Rue du Fort, until you find Baile Street. They also have pretty awesome opening nights and special events – you feel like in Versailles when you walk the alleys of the Shaughnessy Housse to the beat of DJs. Check out the CCA’S WEBSITE for full details.

PHOTO: ALAIN LAFOREST © CANADIAN CENTRE FOR ARCHITECTURE, MONTREAL

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